Sometimes people want something and wonder why they can’t have it. Enter Chris Rock, who seems to seek more dramatic roles like fellow SNL alumni Adam Sandler (see: Is Adam Sandler Shopping for an Oscar-worthy Dramatic Role?)
Chris Rock was involved with a remake of Heaven Can Wait ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ called Down To Earth⭐️½ (2001). He chose to rewrite that story from a comedian’s standpoint instead of from an athlete like Warren Beatty was in the 1978 movie. Beatty displays an entirely different class of acting skill than Chris Rock who is a sometimes funny actor, with a sarcastic voice and biting humor. That’s his shtick and I’d argue he had the perfect role to write himself into something more dramatic — he was one of the credited screenwriters — with Down To Earth — and failed.
So, maybe Rock couldn’t pull off being the quarterback for an NFL team, but why did he choose to play what he already is known as, a comedian? I mean, if he’s already typed as a comedian, choose something else if you want to show a different side. Sure, Rock knows comedy, and it makes sense to play what you know, but that’s why people get typecast. For playing roles they always play.
The greatest actors and actresses play a wide variety of different kinds of roles. Comedians like Rock don’t get asked by casting to play something like Marriage Story because the audiences aren’t going to buy that he has depth. You see Chris Rock’s face and think, yeah, he’s going to whip out some kind of sardonic wit line. I have a smile in my throat whenever I just see the guy. That works for a comedian. It’s difficult to shake that when you’re trying to play deeper, more emotional roles. Can Chris Rock make me cry? Make me scared? Doesn’t seem to fit.
Adam Sandler? He’s more of a goofy, oaf type guy. He’s put on weight since his SNL days and seems more like the cool old dad type these days. He has always sang and played great guitar, so he has that other side. He’s shown some versatility in skills besides just writing and delivering dumb comedy. His on screen chemistry with Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Aniston is undeniable. And then we see what he did in Uncut Gems? That wild, frenzied, heavily addicted gambler role? That was some powerful stuff.
But Chris Rock? What has he done besides comedy? I can see why they aren’t calling him for casting calls for Star Wars or Marriage Story like Adam Driver.
This isn’t saying Rock can’t do more serious roles and do them well, But here we are 19 years after he remade something and chose to style the main character’s role as more comedic than Beatty did in 1978. An acting typecasting mistake, in my opinion, because remaking that movie was already a gamble and then remaking it with a weaker main character that was a comedian (when you want to be known as something other than a comedian) was even worse.
Maybe in 2001 Chris Rock didn’t want more serious dramatic roles.
Chris Rock will star in the newest season of the TV series Fargo, which might seem like a big departure for him, but Rock argues that the show has regularly taken comedic actors in new directions, so the decision to cast Rock isn’t all that outside the box for the show. And beyond that, the actor just wants to get good roles and would love to be given the opportunity to do more dramatic work.Chris Rock Reflects On People Giving Adam Sandler The Benefit Of The Doubt With Weird Roles, Wanting That For Himself – CINEMABLEND
Speaking of weird roles, this post would be incomplete if not mentioning Rock is going to be in Spiral, a Saw sequel (see: FIRST LOOK: Spiral: From the Book of Saw). Horror is a great way for Rock to try something “weird” as he puts it.
Marriage Story wouldn’t have been a “weird” role, it would have been a disaster. I can’t see Rock doing 10% of the job that Adam Driver did in that film. Now, could Adam Driver have pulled off what Warren Beatty did in Heaven Can Wait? Maybe. Not sure he has a warm enough face. Driver seems more inclined to dramatic roles. It’s not just having the acting chops, it’s having the look — or at least being able for wardrobe and makeup to create the look.
Case in point: Charlize Theron playing Megyn Kelly. They made her look like Kelly, but she didn’t quite have the vocal tics down (see: 20+ Bombshell Reviews – Charlize Theron Portrayal of Megyn Kelly Not Award-worthy). It’s damn hard both looking, sounding and being another person. If Charlize Theron can’t do it, when she’s trying, then that says something for just how far from the mark Chris Rock is in being a dramatic actor.
Can he do it? I don’t know. In fairness to him, if he’s not given the roles, he won’t ever have the opportunity to show his range. Who is going to risk giving him roles if the audience thinks, “Why is Chris Rock in this?”
But, as I stated at the beginning, Chris Rock once had a chance to redefine himself into a different type of dramatic romance role — and he went for what he knew best instead: comedy.
If you haven’t seen Heaven Can Wait, we recommend (see: Heavenly Movies – Warren Beatty in Heaven Can Wait), it’s an entertaining 70s romcom with an emphasis on the romance and drama, less so the comedy from Beatty and more from the supporting actors. I don’t recommend watching Down To Earth as it is an unnecessary, terrible, poorly written and acted remake, but you can compare the two movies for yourself if you really want. Then ask yourself if after seeing these two films, you were casting for dramatic roles, if Chris Rock would even make your top 100.
I like Chris Rock, but he wouldn’t make mine. Sandler, on the other hand? Sure.